The Retreat Dedicates ‘Ben’s Room’ in East Hampton

From Left: John Whelan, Steve Bergerson, Claudia Pilato, Vicki Cooper, Barbara Maslen, Ray Harden, Loretta Davis, Kim Nichols, Gina Rattenni, Ellie Kurrus
John Whelan, Steve Bergerson, Claudia Pilato, Vicki Cooper, Barbara Maslen, Ray Harden, Loretta Davis, Kim Nichols, Gina Rattenni, Ellie Kurrus, Photo: Courtesy The Retreat

Nearly a year ago, the East End community lost Ben and Bonnie Krupinski, along with their grandson, William Maerov. But their generosity is still being felt. The Retreat, a domestic violence prevention agency headquartered in East Hampton, recently dedicated Ben’s Room, a creatively designed space, built by Ben Krupinski Builder, and decorated with original murals by local artist Barbara Maslen.

Stephanie House, The Retreat’s emergency shelter, has benefitted from the generosity of Krupinski and his team. “Ben was visiting to discuss changes and renovations to the original space, built by the town of East Hampton almost 30 years ago,” explains Shelter Director Vicki Cooper. “A small child ran up to him and hugged his leg. With tears in his eyes, Ben committed to making the shelter a better place.” Krupinski’s plans included a large expansion and space for a children’s room. “The renovations exceeded our expectations,” Cooper says. “Today, the space is lively and bright. It’s a place where the children feel safe and excited. The space is used for yoga and dance classes, family counseling and childcare, with plenty of time for simple play—all contributing to healing the wounds caused by years of abuse witnessed or directly experienced by our clients.”

Ray Harden, a 16-year veteran of the company and one of the current owners of Ben Krupinski Builder, with Stratton Schellinger—who has 31 years with the company—accepted the dedication on behalf of the company and in memory of Krupinski. “Kids held a special place in Ben’s heart. His instruction to us was to make the project happen. He quietly, and without accolades, tried to do whatever he could to give back to the community,” Harden said at the dedication.

A team quickly came together around the children’s room project with Krupinski’s direction to design the space regardless of resources. John Whelan, Project Manager for Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects, jumped on the project. “Everyone working with us was wonderful,” Whelan says. “Each subcontractor treated the project as if it were an expensive, high-end home. The heart and soul of the commitment to the space is evident in this example: On a Friday afternoon, a worker was asking around to see if anyone had an old TV to use in the space. On Monday morning, one of the subcontractors showed up with a brand-new 52-inch TV that he and his wife purchased as a donation.”

The room is bright and beautiful, thanks to Maslen, a Sag Harbor muralist who created original engaging paintings of animals, on land and sea, to decorate Ben’s Room. “My mission is to bring big, bright, original art to otherwise neglected spaces to energize the space, engage the viewer and bring beauty and joy to people who don’t normally have access to art,” Maslen shares. “Art can be transformative to a community.”

“We are so grateful to Barbara for continuing to share her amazing artistic vision with us,” says Retreat Executive Director Loretta K. Davis.

In addition to offering a safe haven for families in crisis through its shelter, The Retreat has provided domestic violence and sexual assault services, and prevention education to families, friends and neighbors throughout Suffolk County since 1987. Services include a 24/7 domestic violence crisis hotline, individual and group counseling, legal advocacy and violence prevention and education programs for children, teenagers and adults, taught in local schools and community-wide. All services are free and confidential.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 631-329-2200. Calls are confidential and services are free of charge. To learn more, volunteer, or donate, call 631-329-4398 or visit

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